Welcome, children of the night! This Blog is for fans of vintage horror films as well as those who are just beginning to discover the joy of these classic movies. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Vampire Men of the Lost Planet, a.k.a. Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970)

What fresh hell is this? Or, rather, what rewarmed hell is this? Vampire Men of the Lost Planet (VMLP) is an unforgettable film in all the wrong ways. Once you see it, you cannot unsee it!!

Director/producer Al Adamson made his living making cheap films for the drive-in market during the 1960's and 1970's. With VMLP he adds new footage to snippets from three old movies in order to create an unforgettable, as well as unforgivable, viewing experience. The films in question are One Million B.C. (1940), The Wizard of Mars (1965), and Tagani (1965). Visually, he ties everything together by using monocolor filters on all the old film stock and then includes an explanation in the plot as to why this phenomenon is happening. It's audacious and brilliant!

This is the kind of film that would make Ed Wood smile. The sets are cheaply constructed and look like something from a High School play. The cast of characters include vampires, astronauts, cavemen, dinosaurs, and crabs and bats that are humans in Halloween costumes (I kid you not)! Then there's the over-the-top, exuberant performance of John Carradine who tries to keep this sinking ship afloat by over-acting the part. He fails miserably. The only other notable actor in the cast is Robert Dix who also starred in Forbidden Planet.

If you like really, really bad cinema, then VMLP will tickle you with delight. Otherwise, I would avoid this film like the vampire plague depicted in this movie!

RATING: Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Monday, December 26, 2016

The Amityville Curse (1990)

Please. Make. It. Stop. As far as I'm concerned The Amityville Horror (1979) was, and should have always been, a stand alone movie that was based on the real life story of the Lutz family. However, when Hollywood has a cash cow they usually milk it to death! Such is the case of The Amityville Curse which has NOTHING to do with the original story nor the original house. The screenplay was based on a book by the same name. However, IMDB lists multiple authors which is never a good sign and usually indicates there were problems that needed to be fixed. After watching this film, I would say this is the case because the story is all over the place. At first, its a murder mystery. Then it's a supernatural thriller that's not very thrilling. Finally, it's a slasher flick. What a mess!

To make matters worse, they were on a shoestring budget so we have a director with no significant credits to his name, actors who are sometimes god-awful, and special effects that mostly consist of wind machines and lots of candles!!! There are many moments which are supposed to be terrifying but I found myself giggling constantly. I won't belabor the point so if you're tempted to watch this film on YouTube, PLEASE for the love of cinema, resist the urge. You've been warned.

RATING: Bad.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

TerrorVision (1986)

This film is much beloved by some as a campy 80's classic. I guess it depends on your sense of humor but I just didn't get it. This is no Ferris Bueller's Day off or Weird Science. I found TerrorVision to be painful to watch. Comedy is a tricky thing to pull off, especially when it's the over-the-top kind. TerrorVision feels a bit like Pee-Wee's Playhouse with its brightly colored sets and cheesy over-exuberant characters. The only problem is that it's not nearly as funny as Pee-Wee nor quite as subversive.

The monster in this movie can best be described as a big pile of oozing flesh. There were lots of great puppetry effects in the 80's such as The Ghoulies but the way this monster is constructed makes it difficult for it to convey terror or any other emotion. It's sort of like the Grimace in the old McDonald's commercials whose only way of communicating was giggling and jumping up and down. Yeah, this is that kind of monster.

To be honest, the acting is fine. The cast is full of character actors such as Gerrit Graham [Child's Play 2, Demon Seed], Diane Franklin [Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Better Off Dead] and Mary Woronov [The House of the Devil, Death Race 2000]. There's also the adorable Chad Allen who was also starring in the TV Drama Our House the same year this film was made. They give it their all, and then some. It's just that the screenplay doesn't have the kind of humor that works for me.

So, give it a shot if you like uber-cheesy 80's movies. Just be forewarned that there is barely any horror in this one and lots of groan-worthy humor.

RATING: Fair.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974)

Before there was Friday the 13th or Halloween, the same year that Deranged and Black Friday were released, yet another early slasher flick was born: Silent Night, Bloody Night.  What was going on in 1974 that spawned two very dark Christmas stories virtually simultaneously?  Perhaps those Groovy 70's held their dark secrets after all, hidden beneath layers of polyester and bad hair styles!
Silent Night, Bloody Night is a somewhat forgotten gem.  It doesn't have near the production values as Black Christmas.  It's a bit slow paced at times.  However, there is a lot that is good about this film and almost great.  

First we have the serial killer cam, that follows the killer through the house as he stalks his prey.  Second, we have the element of surprise as the slow pace of the film lulls us into a false sense of security which is jarred by a sudden swing of an axe or shovel.  Third, the movie keeps us guessing who the killer is and we don't really learn the whole story until the end of the film.  Fourth, the soundtrack is good with Silent Night devolving into a haunting minor scale that suggests that not all is twinkling lights and holly in this film.  Fifth, the director chooses a "less is more" approach in terms of gore.  There's not a lot of blood on screen but your mind fills in all the messy details perfectly.  Finally, can there really be too many Christmas horror stories?  I think not!  It's a stressful, scary holiday to say the least.


The cast of Silent Night, Bloody Night is mostly unknown to me except for Patrick O'Neal who starred in tons of films including The Stepford Wives and The Way We Were.  [There is also a small cameo by John Carradine as well.]  Yet, in spite of its lack of star power the cast is quite good and gets the job done rather well.  You can download this one for free from Archive.org.  However, the copy is rather grainy.  Still this actually adds to the enjoyment of the film.  I don't think there's a better copy out there.  I searched the internet and one is just as bad as the other.  If anyone else knows of a better print, please let me know.
If you like slasher flicks, then definitely put this one on your list.  Silent Night, Bloody Night is a Christmas present that's the perfect gift any time of the year.
RATING: Very Good.
Download a copy of the film from Archive.org
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Black Christmas (1974)

If you love the sight of lights twinkling on an evergreen tree and carols wafting through the air, then this movie is NOT for you.  If the season of Christmas drives you crazy with its endless barrage of over-sentimentality and consumerism, then sit back and enjoy!  Although Friday the 13th (1980) inspired two generations of Dead Teenager Movies, it stole everything that was good about it from Black Christmas.  The setting is a sorority house instead of a summer camp but nearly everything else is the same.
We see significant portions of the film through the perspective of the killer as the "slasher cam" walks us through the house.  The killer is not "unmasked" until very late in the movie.  [In Black Christmas we may see his hand or his eye but never the whole person.]  The movie intentionally leads us down the wrong path so that we think the killer is someone else.  Teenagers are dispatched in creative and violent ways.  I think you get my point.
Black Christmas tackles these elements very well.  It creates a great deal of suspense throughout the film and I found myself squirming in my seat a number of times as these sweet sorority girls are knocked off in horrific ways.  That's a high complement from me because I'm pretty "unsquirmable."  Black Christmas follows the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock who instinctively knew that what we don't see is far more frightening that what we do see.  Therefore, there is actually very little blood spilled on screen but your mind fills in all the gory details [and does a better job in the process].
The cast is great and includes Margot Kidder [The Amityville Horror, Superman], Olivia Hussey [Romeo and Juliet], Andrea Martin [SCTV, My Big Fat Greek Wedding] and John Saxon [A Nightmare on Elm Street, Enter the Dragon].  Everyone is excellent and there's not a weak link in the bunch.  Particularly enjoyable is Marian Waldman who plays Mrs. Mac, the alcoholic house mother who watches over the girls.  She provides some much needed comic relief in the midst of the bloodletting.
Black Christmas was remade in 2006 with Andrea Martin returning to play the house mother instead of a sorority girl.  I consider it to be as enjoyable as the original and, in some ways, it's better.  The remake includes the backstory of Billy the killer and does it rather effectively.  These "nostalgic" moments enhance the film and provide some of the most twisted and disturbing elements in it. [You'll never look at Christmas cookies the same way again!]  The remake is more violent but it's still well done.  My recommendation is to watch both of them.  Start with the original and then view the remake.  Let me know what you think.  I watch Black Christmas every holiday season with my adult kids.  It's our version of A Christmas Story and helps us to cope with the madness that is the holiday season.  [You might find it hard to believe but Bob Clark directed both of these films.  Thanks to him we have both Ralphie and Billy as our holiday mascots.  WOW!]
RATING: EXCELLENT.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

Spectacularly bad.  Magnificently god-awful.  That pretty much describes Santa Claus Conquers the Martians which has been given a spot on the 100 worst films of all time. 

Here’s the thing:  First of all, this film was made for children, so let’s cut it some slack.  SCCM is a delicious slice of 1960’s children’s TV fair that has the sentimentality of Lassie and the humor of Dennis the Menace.  Scarface it is not!

Secondly, this film was made for a paltry $200,000 and includes scenes from the North Pole, outer space and the planet Mars.  It also has a sizable cast including Pia Zadora in her first film!  You gotta give them an A for effort!

Yes, the costumes are horrible and amateurish.  Yes, the script and acting are just as bad.  Yes, the sets look like they were made for a Jr High School play.  But, who cares?  Like Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), SCCM is exuberant, independent filmmaking that knows exactly what it is and celebrates it with gusto.  This is one of those films that falls into the “so-bad-it’s good” category.  If that’s your kind of thing [and it’s my kind of thing] then don’t miss this one. 

SCCM may be best viewed in December with a group of friends, Christmas cookies and spiked eggnog.  It will definitely be a part of my holiday celebration from tis time forth and forevermore!

RATING: Bad. [as in so-bad-it’s-good]

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Earlier today I found this film in the Blu-Ray discount bin at a big box store. I had never seen it before so I decided to give it a try. Silent Night, Deadly Night is a bit of a mixed bag but, overall, it's a good film. There are no big names here and lots of first timers. Director Charles E. Sellier Jr. only directed 4 films but went on to produce a significant number of documentaries. He does a great job with the action sequences but the performances he gets from the actors are a bit uneven. Writer Paul Caimi's screen play is classic horror stuff with lots of creative Christmas kills as Billy goes buck on everyone after having a flashback of his parent's murder at the hands of a man dressed in a Santa suit. It's entertaining enough but lacks the genius of Black Christmas (1974) my favorite Christmas horror film.

The star of this show is definitely the way people meet their demise. Kudos to Rick Josephsen [Cujo, Fright Night Part 2] for all the squirm-worthy kills. A few in particular are genius but I'll let you discover those for yourself. The soundtrack by Perry Botkin Jr. is also quite good and adds to the feel of the film.

Silent Night is one of those early 80's "dead teenager" movies that tried to duplicate the success of Friday the 13th (1980) or at least make a quick buck riding the popularity of this horror sub-genre. It succeeds more than it fails.

As a final note the Blu-ray I bought was the 30th Anniversary Edition that is also the "Original Unrated Version." This means portions of the film are not as crisp as others but there is a disclaimer at the beginning that states this up front. The attempt here is to present the film as it was originally intended. With that in mind, I can easily overlook the uneven quality of the film.

RATING: Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street is the perfect horror film. It is one of my all-time favorites. Not only did Writer/Director Wes Craven create one of the most iconic horror villains ever, he also wowed us with amazing special effects on a modest budget. The basic story centers on Fred Krueger [played to perfection by Robert Englund], a child murderer who haunts the dreams of the teens whose parents killed him many years ago in an act of revenge. If he is able to kill the teens in their dreams, they die in real life as well. The screenplay is virtually flawless and stands out as highly original. I believe it to be Wes Craven's finest work as a writer.

The cast includes Johnny Depp in his first feature film as well as the perfect horror heroine in Heather Langenkamp. She portrays her character Nancy as strong yet vulnerable, smart yet capable of great emotional depth. She's the perfect example of an empowered 1980's woman and I enjoy watching her in every scene. Veteran actor John Saxon [Enter the Dragon, From Dusk Till Dawn] is also great as Nancy's father. He provides the perfect adult skepticism to what's happening on Elm Street but eventually gets it before it's too late.

Kudos as well to Charles Bernstein [April Fool's Day, Kill Bill Vol. 1] for the exceptional musical score that adds greatly to the overall feel of the film.  Nightmare wouldn't be the same without it! It sets the perfect mood time and time again.

Tons of scholarly analysis has already been written about Nightmare so I won't bore you with all the details. Simply enjoy this classic film which has the right amount of gore, scares and characters you care about to keep you on the edge of your set every second of this finely crafted film.

I saw the 2010 remake and, like most critics, I consider it to be pure crap. They spent a lot of money on it but it doesn't come close to the original. The 2010 Freddy just doesn't work for me at all. He is humorless and boring. Furthermore, they may have upped the gore in the sequel and included a back story on Freddy, but both of these things seem totally unnecessary. Stick with the original!

RATING: Excellent.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)

If you are wondering when in the hell Michael Meyers is going to make an appearance in Halloween 3, you'll be waiting for a very long time. There is a quick shot of his looming presence on a TV set in the film and that's it. Halloween 3 is really not an end to a trilogy but a whole new story. This makes people either love it or hate it. I fall somewhere in-between.

H3 has several things going for it. 1) The story is interesting and has a few surprises along the way. I have watched H3 many times and never get tired of it. 2) John Carpenter supplies a creepy soundtrack which greatly adds to the feel of the film. This includes the nerve-wrecking Silver Shamrock Jingle that taunts its listeners throughout the film. 3) Tom Atkins [The Fog, Escape From New York] gives a strong performance as Daniel Challis, a doctor who suspects that something fishy is happening over at the Silver Shamrock plant. This movie would be in trouble without him.

Now for the negatives: 1) Toward the end of the film there's some utter BS abut Samhain and witchcraft that is not only pure fiction but it has little to do with the rest of the film. It's not needed at all. 2) Some of the special effects are a bit laughable. They pale in comparison to some of Carpenter's other masterpieces such as The Thing. 3) Carpenter gives the director's and writer's tasks to Tommy Lee Wallace [It, Fright Night 2] who does a decent job but he's no John Carpenter. The same thing happened to Wes Craven in the Nightmare on Elm street franchise. The best of those films [the Original and A New Nightmare] were the ones where Craven had control of the project.

So, don't believe the haters. It's really a decent film if you haven't seen it. Just remember that it's not a sequel to the original. It's a totally different beast. Happy, happy Halloween!

RATING: Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Monster on the Campus (1958)

Where has this movie been all my life? Monster on the Campus is almost as good as other 1950's Sci-fi classics such as Them (1954) and Tarantula (1955). It simply suffers from a bad title that doesn't compel the viewer to watch it. Thankfully, I did!

Monster on the Campus was directed by Jack Arnold who was at the helm of such classics as Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954), It Came From Outerspace (1953) and Tarantula (1955). Furthermore, writer David Duncan also did the screenplays for The Time Machine (1960) and Fantastic Voyage (1966). Ladies and gentleman, we are in very capable hands!

The basic story centers on a research professor who is infected by the blood of a prehistoric fish that was bombarded with gamma rays in order to preserve it. It's classic 1950's Sci-fi stuff and the science is as good as any other film of that era. Along the way we are treated to a rabid dog, a giant dragonfly and a professor who is transformed into the monster in question. The only weakness is that the makeup of the creature is just god-awful. It's a mask that they make no attempt to try and hide. If Jack Pierce had been the one doing the makeup, this movie would have been a classic!

Monster on the Campus also benefits from its two leads. Arthur Franz [Invaders From Mars, The Cain Mutiny] as Professor Donald Blake and Joanna Moore [Touch of Evil, Alfred Hitchcock Presents] as his gal pal Madeline Howard. They are simply perfect together and get every scene right. They are definitely the heart and soul of this movie.

The other star of the show is the magnificent orchestral soundtrack that was cobbled together with stock music from a number of composers including Henry Mancini. I am one of those people who simply loves to hear an orchestra accompany a film. It gives a richness to the movie that enhances the viewers experience of it.

So, forget about the lame title and WATCH THIS MOVIE! If you're a fan of 1950's Sci-fi you won't be disappointed.

RATING: Very Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Friday, September 9, 2016

The Midnight Hour (1985)

ABC aired this little gem on Halloween night in 1985. It's one of those horror films that can be watched by the entire family which is a rarity. It's a little bit spooky, a little bit funny, and there's even a little romance for good measure. If you need blood splatter and dismemberment to make your Halloween merry, you should probably look elsewhere. If you enjoy horror in the vein of the Munsters, then this is your kind of Halloween movie.

The plot is simple and befitting of a Scooby-Doo episode. The gang steals historical costumes from the local museum for a party, including a box with a mysterious scroll in it. They break the seal on the scroll and joke around as they read the incantation. Little did they know that as they drove off to the party they had unleashed something…lots of somethings, in fact. And, therein, lies the fun of the film as a host of ghouls and grisly characters roam the streets of the town and attend the party without anyone noticing them!

The Midnight Hour is loaded with well known faces from the 80's. LeVar Burton [Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation], Shari Belafonte, Peter DeLouise [21 Jump Street], Dick Van Patten [Eight is Enough] and Kevin McCarthy [Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Innerspace]. Everyone in the cast is great and fulfills their roles nicely. However, the real stars are those who play the ghouls! Their physical mannerisms make them look like they just stepped out of Michael Jackson's Thriller video. They are quirky and funny and add a lot to this movie. They can even be menacing when they need to.

Kudos to director Jack Bender [Lost, Under the Dome] for making such a fun movie. There are so many things that work well in The Midnight Hour that it's hard to find anything to criticize…except for Shari Belafonte's song and dance number that feels out of place with the rest of the film.

RATING: Very Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Witchboard 2: The Devil's Doorway (1993)

If the first film makes money, there's bound to be a sequel. But buyer beware because this movie has nothing to do with the "devil's doorway" as the title suggests. Instead we have the tale of Paige, a young businesswoman who aspire to be an artist. She moves into a new apartment and, ta-da, a Ouija Board makes its presence known in her bedroom closet.

If you've seen the first one, you kinda know where this one is going, although the plot is not as interesting as the first film. It's clear that writer/director Kevin Tenney [Night of the Demons] has more money to work with this time and he sinks it into special effects. Unfortunately, a plethera of flying tools and exploding cars don't make the film more terrifying than the first Witchblade movie. They just make it noisier!

Ami Dolenz [Pumpkinhead 2, General Hospital] plays Paige with lots of sweetness and charm and is a very likable character. Is it just me or does she bear a striking resemblance to Sarah Michelle Gellar from Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I kept on waiting for Joss Whedon's snarky dialogue to come flying out of her mouth but, alas, it didn't happen. The rest of the cast is fine with the most well known actor being Laraine Newman from Saturday Night Live. She plays the landlord who is perpetually stuck in 1969 and provides the movie it's lighter moments.

Overall, the dialogue is stronger and more natural than the first film, but the story just didn't grab me as much as the first movie did. That being said, I enjoyed watching it and if you liked the first Witchboard you will probably like the sequel as well.

RATING: Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Witchboard (1986)

A friend brings a Ouija board to a party. You find yourself attracted to it and continue to mess with it on your own. At first it's fun. But then…weird things start to happen. This is the beginning of many stories that are told by actual people who have used Ouija or "spirit" boards. Writer and director Kevin Tenney [Night of the Demons] takes full advantage of these stories, adds a few legends of his own, and presents us with a worst-case scenario.

Witchboard is Tenney's first feature film and he does a great job with scene composition and pacing of the film. The "spirit cam" is especially effective as we see some scenes through the eyes of the spectre. This is a nod to earlier movies such as Friday the 13th (1980) and Black Christmas (1974), where we visually walk in the shoes of the serial killer. Where the film falters is the character of the detective who interrogates his suspects at graveside. Who does that?

Another thing that didn't work for me is the Zarabeth, the Valley Girl Medium. She is obviously there to inject a little humor into the film but her performance is so over the top that I found it distracting. Give me Tangina from Poltergeist over her any day!

Finally there's a slow-motion fall out a window that pays tribute to a similar scene in Psycho (1960) where someone falls down a flight of stairs and we travel with them. It works much better in Psycho than it does here.

The two things that really "work" for me in Witchboard are the complex love triangle and the spirit of "David," the dead 10 year old whom they contact. The love triangle is between the friend who brought the board and the couple who hosted the party. They all have a long history with each other and Tenney plays around with their feelings for each other in interesting ways. "David" also works and reminds us that sometimes simple is best. The Ouija board does most of the talking in the beginning of the film and it drew me into the story. If these a weakness with "David," it's that the audience figures out what David is trying to say long before the characters in the film do. Perhaps this is intentional because I found myself screaming at people who were absolutely clueless more than a few times.

Speaking of love triangles…the acting of the three main character is a bit uneven. Stephen Nichols [Days of Our Lives, General Hospital], who plays the friend, channels his inner James Spader in Pretty in Pink toward the beginning of the film. It's a bit too much for me an a more nuanced performance would have been better. Thankfully, he redeems himself later in the film and gives us more than a one-dimensional character. The girlfriend is none other than Tawny Kitaen who is best known for shaking her stuff in Whitesnake videos. Here, she shows us she has some skill as an actress and her character has a nice vulnerability about her, especially when communicating with "David." Finally, her boyfriend is played by Todd Allen [Silverado, The Apostle] who is the strongest of the three and has a more natural acting style that works well.

With a few small tweaks, I think Witchboard could have been a great film. A remake has been in the works for a while so it will be interesting to see what they do with it. My hope is that they'll follow Tenney's lead and go for suspense and intrigue rather than excessive gore. Definitely give this one a try. It may very well be one of the most underrated horror films of the 1980's.

RATING: Very Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Chiller (1985)

What most critics fail to take into consideration when reviewing Wes Craven's Chiller is that it was a MADE FOR TV MOVIE IN THE 1980's. Therefore, we're not going to see the gleeful gore and dark humor of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) nor the sadistic horror of The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Instead, we have a film that was made for general audiences and it must be judged with this in mind.

Let's start with the screenplay. J.D. Feigelson [Dark Night of the Scarecrow], poses an interesting question: If someone is brought back to life after being cryogenically frozen, are they the same person or are they different? He tackles the subject matter fairly well and asks a few existential questions along the way. Sure, there are really no big surprises in this film but it does hold your attention and is interesting enough to keep you watching it.

Wes Craven's direction is solid and he manages to create several really good scenes, especially when the man in question is brought back to life at the hospital. I thought the effects were good and it provided one of the most interesting moments in the film.

Chiller was also helped by several veteran actors including Paul Sorvino [Goodfellas] as Reverend Penny, Beatrice Straight [Poltergeist] as Marian Creighton and Michael Beck [The Warriors] as Miles Creighton, the man who was brought back to life. Straight puts her heart and soul into this role and is definitely the emotional center of this film. Sorvino an Beck do a fine job as well.

So, give this one a try if you like thrillers. It may not be Craven's most inventive work but it's a solid effort from a director I've always admired. Just keep in mind that Thriller was a MADE FOR TV MOVIE IN THE 1980's and you'll be fine. You can find this one on YouTube. There's one copy with really crappy sound but keep searching and you'll find a decent one!

RATING: Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Wolf Blood (1925)

If you're looking for a man in a wolf costume, you'll be sorely disappointed with this 1925 silent film release. Archive.org says that Wolf Blood is the oldest remaining werewolf movie. However, I would argue that there is no werewolf in this movie at all. Just a guy who undergoes a wolf blood transfusion and thinks he's becoming wolf. Furthermore, the blood transfusion occurs very late in the film and I found myself waiting and waiting for something to happen and it didn't. 

The main plot involves two rival lumber companies and a love triangle between the femme fatale, wolf boy and the doctor who performed the transfusion. The print of the film I saw was in remarkably good shape and was accompanied by a decent soundtrack. It stars George Chesebro who also directed the film as well as Marguerite Clayton who appeared in 179 films during the Silent Era. It is well acted and is an important historical piece that I'm glad is being preserved for future generations to watch.

"Wolf Blood" is strictly for film buffs only. It is hardly Nosferatu (1922) by any stretch of the imagination. However, the film does sow the seeds for later werewolf pictures. It also gives the viewer an appreciation for the giant leap horror films made between it and Dracula (1931) or Frankenstein (1931). If audiences were used to seeing Wolf Blood, I cannot imagine how shocked they would have been when Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff appeared on the screen.

RATING: Fair.
 

Download a copy of the film from Archive.org

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Monster Club (1981)


In the name of all things unholy, why have I never seen this film? The Monster Club is a horror-comedy trilogy starring Vincent Price, John Carradine and Donald Pleasence. What's not to like about that? Price and Carradine are the "hosts" for this show which is set in a "Monsters Only" nightclub. Yes, the costumes are uber-cheesy but Price is having so much fun as vampire Erasmus that it's easy to overlook this weakness. Carradine is also the perfect foil for Price's antics.

In addition to Price's gleeful performance, the stars of the club scenes are the music acts who provide entertainment. It's classic 80's new wave/alt rock with my favorite being B A Robertson who plays a vampire crooning "Sucker For Your Love." The weird angle of his head as he performs, instead of looking out at the audience, adds greatly to the mood of the song.

The first story is about a strange monster called a "shadmock" which has a deadly whistle. It was the weakest of the three but unique enough to keep my interest.

Next in line is a dark humor vampire story with Donald Pleasence playing a vampire hunter. The story centers on a family whose kid is being bullied in school. His father in a vampire and his mother is human. The story has both serious and comedic moments and was a perfect blend of the two.

Director Roy Ward Baker [Asylum, Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde, The Vault of Horror] definitely saved the best for last. "Humgoo" was a wonderful story about a village of ghouls and a half ghoul/half human girl named Humgoo. It has heart, horror and lots of atmosphere. Nicely done!

Overall, The Monster Club is hardly a masterpiece but it sure is a lot of fun! If you like horror that is quite campy with a few dark moments thrown in for good measure, then you will find this movie quite enjoyable. It's one of those films that the whole family can see and enjoy which doesn't often happen in the horror genre.

RATING: Very Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.



Sunday, August 28, 2016

Twice-Told Tales (1963)

What is better than a Vincent Price movie? Three Vincent Price movies in one! Twice-Told Tales is a horror trilogy based on stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of such classics as The Scarlet Letter. Director Sydney Salkow [The Last Man on Earth, The Addams Family] paces these stories perfectly and know how to build interest and tension in each of the three vignettes. The script by Robert E Kent [Zombies on Broadway, The Werewolf] is well written and give the actors lots of great material to work with.

First up is Dr. Heidegger's Experiment, starring Price and Sebastian Cabot [Miracle on 34th Street, Family Affair] as two old friends who may have discovered the fountain of youth. Of course, such elixirs are not without consequences which is what makes the story interesting. These two veteran actors play their role well and the chemistry between them is very good, even though Price is a tad bit over the top.

Second is Rappaccini's Daughter where Price is in his glory as slightly demented and way overprotective father. Brett Halsey [Return of the Fly] is the new next door neighbor who has his eye on Price's reclusive daughter. It's a great story and the special effects hold up well considering when this film was made.

Finally, they saved the best for last with The House of the Seven Gables. Price is manically delightful as Gerald Pyncheon who is determined to be victorious over the family curse while finding a secret vault in the house. Jacqueline deWit is great as Price's sister and Mari Blanchard [She Devil] is radiant and slightly possessed as Gerald's wife. The three really give this last vignette power and bring it to a wonderful conclusion.

While it's not quite a classic, Twice-Told Tales is an excellent anthology that was quite enjoyable to watch. If you're a Vincent Price fan you definitely won;t want to miss it.

RATING: Very Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Sadist (1963)

The Sadist is believed to be the first feature film based on real life serial killers Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate. Mainstream Hollywood would not produce films inspired by the pair until a decade after this one. A number of films were inspired by the duo (some very loosely) and included such major examples as Badlands (1973) and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994). I thought everything about this movie worked. The pacing was good and a number of scenes were quite tense. They even managed to make me wince a time or two. I can see how this film paved the way for others of its kind. The Sadist is well acted and the scenes were framed very well. The climactic scene where the killer falls into a pit with rattlesnakes is perfect. The look in his eyes mirrors that which we saw in his victims. Nicely done.

The film was directed by James Landis [not to be confused with John Landis] who I was surprised did not direct more films than he did. His work here is very competent and shows great potential for more. Arch Hall, Jr who plays the killer channels James Dean with a crazy streak. After watching this film, I had a greater appreciation for the many slasher flicks that would follow. It's hardly Psycho (1960) but it is enjoyable nonetheless.

RATING: Very Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Fatal Hour (1940)

Monogram Pictures produced and released a series of low budget films from 1931 to 1953, some of which were thrillers like The Fatal Hour. This film is the fourth in Boris Karloff's Mr. Wong series where he plays a street smart detective. Karloff is good in this film but it is hardly a stand out performance. Still it's worth seeing if your a fan of his work.

The basic story is the murder of a police captain's best friend and Mr. Wong is brought in to solve it, which he naturally does! This is a buy-the-book thriller that is quite common for the time period. My favorite performance in this film is not Karloff's but Marjorie Reynolds who plays the sassy and determined reporter Bobbie Logan. Her energy on screen is wonderful and is a joy to watch.

Director William Nigh [Black Dragons, The Ape] keeps the action humming along at a nice pace with some good dramatic moments. The screenplay by George Waggner [best knows as the director of The Wolf Man] is solid and gives the actors decent material to work with.

The one thing that is definitely missing is a soundtrack. This movie is absolutely silent in most places with dialogue being the only thing we hear. It makes you appreciate how much a good soundtrack can add to the emotion of a film.

The Fatal Hour is not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not bad either. It's definitely a film of its time so if you like that kind of thing you just might enjoy it. 

You can download a copy for free from Archive.org and there is an HD version on YouTube if you follow the video below.

RATING: Fair.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

House of Wax (1953)

House of Wax is one of my favorite horror films ever. Vincent Price as Professor Henry Jarrod is virtually flawless, offering what I think is one of the greatest performances of his career. The film also includes Charles Bronson who plays Jarrod's loyal servant. House of Wax first came out in 3-D. I was fortunate enough to see it this way in a theatrical rerelease of the picture. However, the film is just as powerful in its 2-D version.

The story is about a talented sculptor whose museum is set ablaze by his business partner in order to collect the insurance money. The sculptor resurfaces a number of years later to launch a his own wax museum. However, as new figures appear in his museum, bodies mysteriously disappear from the city morgue. Hmmm. The plot thickens.

Not everyone is aware that this film is a remake of the 1933 film "Mystery of the Wax Museum." The original is not a bad film either and I recommend watching it to get an idea of where the 1953 film came from. A wretched remake of House of Wax came out in 2005 that is bad beyond words. The only entertaining moment in that red hot mess is when Paris Hilton gets impaled in the head by a stick. This particular scene can be viewed in all its glorious splendor on YouTube so don't waste your time sitting through the whole film.

I don't think "House of Wax" is available to view legally online. There is a decent edition of it that is available through Amazon that includes both the 1933 and 1953 versions of the film. I own it and am quite happy with it.

RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Devil Bat (1940)

Fans of Bela Lugosi will not want to miss this one. Instead of playing a vampire, he plays a "mad scientist" who experiments with bats. [A little bit of type casting here?] Lugosi is Dr. Carruthers in an old fashioned tale of revenge. He's miffed because the products he invented made his employer rich but not him. So, he cooks up a scheme to get even that involves giants bats and a new after shave they are particularly attracted to. I'm sure you can imagine where it goes from there!

The unintentionally laughable scenes in the film occur when the bats leave Dr. Carruthers laboratory. The director uses the same footage over and over and over again. This also happens when the bats are flying in the air. I guess they hope we won't notice! Oops!

The movie is well acted by everyone and is nicely filmed. The plot is well thought out and the characters are believable. It's not a "magnum opus" by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is an enjoyable film to watch. You can watch it for free on may internet sites.


RATING: Good.

Download a copy of the film from Archive.org

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

I saw this film for the first time when I was seven years old. It scared the crap out of me but I couldn't stop watching it. It was then that I knew I was hooked on horror. "Creature from the Black Lagoon" is the perfect creature film. The cinematography on the underwater scenes is breathtaking and was innovative for its time. Ricou Browning, who is uncredited in the move, played the Gill Man in all these scenes. His work is remarkable. He brings a physicality to the Creature that makes you forget that you're watching a man in a costume.

The story has a "man vs. nature" plot line and is set in the Amazon [although the scenes were shot in Florida]. In this case the humans are on a scientific expedition where they discover the mysterious Gill Man whom, of course, they try to capture. The Gill Man returns the favor by kidnapping the fiance of one of the scientists. It's basically King Kong retold underwater! The acting is impeccable and the scene where Kay Lawrence does an underwater ballet in her torpedo bathing suit while the creature watches from afar is priceless. The beauty of the film is that it leaves the viewer rooting for the creature instead of the stupid, misguided humans. I love it!

There are several editions of this film out on DVD. My personal favorite is the two CD set from the Universal Legacy Collection which includes not only the original film but also it's two sequels: "Revenge of the Creature" (1955) and "The Creature Walks Among Us" (1956). All three are beautifully restored, although I would argue that the third film is far less effective than the first two. This DVD set also includes an excellent documentary "Back to the Black Lagoon" which examines the making of all three films as well as their influence on other filmmakers.

I don't believe you can watch this film legally anywhere online. If you know differently, let me know. This film is required viewing for any serious fan of horror.

RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Giant Gila Monster (1959)

IMDB is horribly unfair to The Giant Gila Monster. Yes, the movie is full of cliches such as the town drunk, the wise sheriff, and a group of crazy kids looking forward to the next sock hop. Yes, the special effects amount to footage of a real gila monster that is made to look gigantic but is about as menacing as a basket full of kittens. Yes, there is a heart-throb crooner who breaks out his ukulele and starts singing cringe-worthy songs. Yes, the scientific explanation regarding how this lizard came to be is ridiculous. But what's not to like about all of the above!

The Giant Gila Monster is one of those so-bad-it's-good kind of movies. The thing that saves it is Ray Kellogg's direction. He is a capable director whose visual effects have graced such classics as The King and I, Love Me Tender and The Seven Year Itch. His scene compositions and pacing of the film are solid. He is also able to get solid performances out of his actors.

The other thing that works in the film is the eerie soundtrack (minus the ukulele player) which uses the theremin as its main instrument. The atmosphere is perfect for this B-grade creature feature. Jack Marshall is credited as the composer and is best known for the 60's T.V. classic The Munsters.

Finally, I speak on behalf of the Gila Monster who terrorized this small town in Texas. Yes, it hokey, but it is on par with other bad monster movies of the 1950's. It's laugh-out-loud funny and I think the filmmakers are in on the joke.

Is the Giant Gila Monster a great film? Not by a long shot! Is it a fun sci-fi romp whose sum is better than its parts? You betcha! Give this one a try if you're a fan of 1950's movies.

RATING: Fair.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Beast of Yucca flats (1962)

"At the push of a button…things happen…a scientist becomes a beast." Dear sweet Boris Karloff, this is one horrible movie. It's hard to know where to begin! The voiceover from writer/director/narrator/actor Coleman Francis is a good place to start. His "profound" declarative sentences are laugh-out-loud funny even though they're meant to be deadly serious. These take the place of dialogue and are accompanied by an annoying soundtrack that is way too dramatic for what's happening on screen. every once in a while, dialogue happens, and when it does it's badly acted and is often a voice-over instead of live action. Good Lord, deliver us!

The "star" of this show is Tor Johnson who plays the Beast in question. He is a scientist who was the victim of an A-bomb that was set off in the desert. Now, with bad prosthetic make-up applied, he is on a murderous rampage which, apparently, is the side effect of radiation exposure. Ha-ha! For those unfamiliar with Tor Johnson, he is a wrestler turned actor who was immortalized in Ed Wood's god-awful love-to-hate-it trifecta of Bride of the Monster (1955), Night of the Ghouls (1959) and Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959). I'm sure it's a gift to the audience that Mr. Johnson does not speak for the entire length of the film!

The Beast of Yucca Flats was made for a mere $34,000 and it shows. Perhaps with the right group of friends and a keg of beer this film would be enjoyable. However, I saw it by myself with one glass of wine and that wasn't nearly enough wine to get me through this film. Some say that Beast is so-bad-it's-good. I say it's just plain Bad. With so many other wonderful horror films out there, why torture yourself with this one?

RATING: Bad. Really Bad.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Screaming Skull (1958)

The Screaming Skull is a staple of last night B-grade horror films. Yes, the acting is less than spectacular. Yes, the effects are a bit hokey. However, I would argue that this film is better than most people think it is. Let's start with the soundtrack. Music editor Jerry Roberts and conductor/composer Ernest Gold give us a moody and atmospheric score that is the star of this show. Love it!

Director/Actor Alex Nichol who plays the "that boy's just not right" gardener paces the film fine but his acting is less than spectacular to say the least. The rest of the cast is ok with John Hudson giving the strongest performance of the bunch as Eric. Peggy Weber plays his new bride, Jenni, but too often gives into those 1950's helpless female histrionics that drive me crazy.

The basic storyline is nothing new. A newly married couple moves into the husband's home, which was also the home of his first wife who is now deceased. Strange things tart happening and Jenni starts to think she is losing her mind…or is she? You know where it goes form there! Pretty predictable stuff.

All things considered, The Screaming Skull is hardly a masterpiece but you could do a whole lot worse on a rainy Sunday afternoon! If you like old dark house stories, give this one a try. Oh, and the introduction guarantee of a free burial if this movie kills you is brilliant! William Castle would be grinning from ear to ear!

RATING: Fair.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

You can also download a copy of it from Archive.org.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Dracula (1931)

Bela Lugosi is Count Dracula. It was the role he was born to play. There are no vampires pining away for whiny teenage girls in this movie. Lugosi's Dracula is far more menacing. His performance is understated and powerful. There are no special effects here. Just an actor who can convey a sense a dread and evil intent through his eyes and hand gestures alone. Lugosi's Hungarian accent also works to his advantage here. What is even more impressive is the fact that he barely spoke English when he made this film and had to memorize the dialogue word for word. Impressive indeed.
There a number of DVD's of this film that are available for purchase. My personal favorite is the 75th Anniversary Edition which is a part of Universal's Legacy Series. It contains a beautifully restored version of the film plus an excellent tribute to the film career of Bela Lugosi entitled "Lugosi: Prince of Darkness." There is also an interesting Spanish version of the film on Disc 2 that was made on the same set right after Lugosi's "Dracula" was filmed. It is entertaining to say the least but doesn't light a candle to the film we know and love.
There have been many incarnations of Dracula that have followed Lugosi's performance but his still stands the test of time. It is one of my all-time favorite films and is required viewing for anyone interested in the horror genre. As far as I know there are no legitimate sites to view this film online for free. [Let me know if you know differently.] Personally, I think it's worth the money to buy the DVD and see this film on the biggest screen you can find.
RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Last Woman on Earth (1960)

After having watched Vincent Price's magnificent performance in The Last Man on Earth (1964), I had high hopes for The Last Woman on Earth. My expectation was to discover a 1960's empowered female who beat the odds in the apocalypse and sent all of her enemies packing. No such luck!

Last Woman on Earth is a Roger Corman directed low-budget sleeper. IMDB says it's a drama/horror/mystery but I would be hard pressed to find any one of these elements in the film let alone all three of them. The plot is simplistic and predictable. You see everything coming from a mile away. Furthermore, it reads more like a bad, slow-paced soap opera rather than an exciting adventure.

Betsy Jones-Moreland [Creature From the Haunted Sea, bless her heart] is Evelyn Gern, the woman at the heart of the story. She is far from empowered and keeps flitting back and forth between what appears to be the last two men on earth. All three are weak in the acting department but to their credit, they had very little to work with in terms of great dialogue.

The basic gist of the story is that Evelyn, her husband, and a mutual friend are on vacation in Puerto Rico. They go scuba diving and when they surface for air they discover there was a temporary depletion of oxygen in the earth's atmosphere (which is never fully explained) and everyone they encounter is dead. That's all you need to know and that's about all that really happens in the film. No gore or horror elements to be found. Just straight up melodrama.

If you are expecting a nice, little horror/mystery film, then look elsewhere. This one was disappointing to say the least.

RATING: Bad.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

What a fantastic movie! Vincent Price acts for the first twenty-two minutes with voice over only. No dialogue. A remarkable feat! The "vampires" who attack his home are a bit lame. However, his compelling presence makes this movie a joy to watch.

The Last Man on Earth is based on Richard Matheson's 1954 novel "I Am Legend." The basic plot is that a plague has wiped out most, if not all, of humanity except for Robert Morgan [Vincent Price]. The dead humans have come back as "vampires" and Morgan spends his days killing vamps and trying to find a cure for the plague, all the while wondering why he is immune to the disease. [Go, Buffy!]

If the plot sounds familiar, it should. The book was also adapted to film as "The Omega Man" in 1971 starring Charlton Heston and as "I Am Legend" in 2007 starring Will Smith. Personally, I prefer "The Last Man on Earth" over both of these later versions. "The Omega Man" is too hip for its own good and is mired in bad 70's clothing and too much talk of "the family" as if the infected were followers of Charles Manson. The "zombies" who inhabit "I Am Legend" are CGI disasters, looking more like cartoon characters. They move in ways that would be impossible for a creature that was once a human being.

If you've never seen the 1964 film, I cannot recommend it enough. Thankfully, it is now available as a free download and is in the public domain. I hope this will enable more people to see this wonderful film.

RATING: Excellent.

Download a copy of the film from Archive.org

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)

This one falls into the "so bad it's good" category. Edward D. Wood Jr. has always had a reputation for being the worst director ever. However, I would nominate Michael Bay for that honor. Bay just has a bigger budget to work with!  Who else but Ed Wood could come up with a movie that incorporates space ships, vampires and zombies into one film? Sure, the dialogue is stiff and the sets are poorly constructed but, somehow, this only makes the film more endearing to me. [Why is there a tesla coil on a space ship? I'm just asking the question.]
The plot involves space aliens who try to take over the earth by resurrecting the dead who begin attacking the living. [Follow me so far?] It's up to our hero, Jeff Trent, a fearless airline pilot, to save the world as well as his wife from their evil "Plan 9." [The suspense is killing me!]
The cast includes Bela Lugosi [in his last, are arguably worst, performance on screen. It's a shame that drug addiction ruined his career], Vampira [with her impossibly slender waist] and Tor Johnson [a wrestler turned actor with considerably LESS acting skills than The Rock] as the undead. It's not a scary film but it will make you laugh and keep you thoroughly entertained. My favorite line from the film comes from actress Mona McKinnon who plays Paula Trent: "Now, don't you worry. The saucers are up there. The graveyard is out there. But I'll be locked up safely in there." Priceless!


A remake of the film was released in 2015 and is said to be an homage to the original. However, I've seen the trailer and it looks like they simply upped the gore and left out the campy spirit of the original film. Just what we need, another mindless gorefest for the masses. BORING! I'll stick with the original.


RATING: Very Good [Due to Wood's exuberance for filmmaking.]
Download a copy of the film from Archive.org
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.